June 7 Archaia Korinthos (Day 254)

A beautiful sunrise over the mountains!

Today we will cross the street and visit the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, an open air museum we can see from our Airbnb! We got there after breakfast and meandered around until we went into the Museum which we did not know was there. In a courtyard a young woman Archaeologist was manning a display of the work being done at the site, work that has been ongoing for 140+ years by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens! She was a font of interesting information and piqued our curiosity!First off she explained the propensity of headless, armless statues! Wear and tear of course, the neck and arms being weak points in sculpture, easily fractured, and the fact that they made the statues en masse, to be interchangeable! The heads were sculpted separately to match the subject, and the arms could be holding different objects; law books, scrolls, wreathes, etc.!  Another statue showing the insert for the appropriate head!

She went on describing the archaeological work being done by academics from various institutions that sometimes bring to light the everyday lives of the inhabitants of Ancient Corinth! For examples;

The many figurines and sometimes life size statuary of body parts found in the temples dedicated to the Gods of healing (sort of like ancient hospitals) that were used to invoke the Gods to heal said body part, or to thank the Gods for successful healing. The Priests or Acolytes of the temple gave prescriptions or prayers and sometimes even performed surgery to assist the Gods in the healing process!

The lead tablets that were inscribed with curses, found in the vaults of some temples. There was a brisk business for inscribing the thin lead plates with specific curses against specific persons and the punishments the wronged wanted inflicted on the cursee! There were several plates targeting one particular seller of garlands from different people! What did that person do to warrant so many curses against them?

The floor flagstone found in what was first thought to be a workshop, but determined, by the inscriptions carved into the stone, to be a jail cell! The carving revealed that the jailed felt wrongly accused and convicted (that never changes!) and the boredom of jail, with a boardgame carved into the floorstone of the cell! The cell had probably been a dirt floored workshop or retail shop but was repurposed in a later era as a jail cell that for obvious reasons would need a solid floor, hence the floorstone!

The skeletal remains found in cemeteries, through forensic analysis, have brought to light many aspects of the lifestyles of the inhabitants through the centuries. The fact that these remains bore evidence of healed fractures of the hand and ribs indicate he may have been a fighter, but not a soldier. A soldier would have injuries of the face and head that would likely have killed him!

The mass production of clay figurines for temple worship, funerary gifts, household altars, and even toys was thought to be manufactured mostly by men. Study of the fingerprints embedded in the clay by researchers collaborating with the FBI has revealed that women and even children were active in the business!

The halls surrounding the courtyard contain many artifacts discovered in the ruins of the ancient city. Spanning time from the Neolithic Period 6,500 B.C. to the present! Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Frankish, Venetian, Ottoman, Modern, all layered on top of each other!

Outside, the many acres that have been excavated reveal temples, marketplaces, amphitheaters, baths, paved roads and pavilions, too much to take in! Dominating it all are the columns of the Temple of Apollo! Greek or Roman? The history is so long and complex it boggles me!

Throw in the Christian aspect and another layer is slathered on! This is the site where the Apostle Paul was put on trial and acquitted of “conducting illegal teachings”.

“And the rest is history”!

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